Making A Small Difference
Friday, February 13, 2009
Typically, Valentine’s Day in our family is a time for major sweet tooth indulgence, beautiful flowers and cards and maybe dinner out at a nice restaurant. Aside from the beautiful flowers and cards, which I’m looking forward to receiving and giving, the other two things, sweet tooth indulgence and eating out might jinx my maintenance plan. Skipping those traditions is fine with me. So this year we decided to spread our Valentine’s sentiment beyond the normal little circle of family and friends by donating to an organization that does important work helping people in need.
My brother and his wife suggested an organization called Mercy Corps, based in Portland, Oregon. Their mission, to “alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities”, sounds pretty generic at first glance because there are SO many organizations out there with equally worthy causes. And really, any cause that reaches out nationally or globally to advocate positive change through community-led action is deserving of attention. However, because my brother and his wife mentioned the name and were familiar with this group, I felt that was validation enough.
My sister-in-law’s cousin works for Mercy Corps in Africa and Latin America, setting up youth soccer activities for “Play to Heal”, a program that helps children cope with “physical and emotional rubble of emergencies” by learning sports and games. There are twenty-four other causes that Mercy Corps is trying to bring attention to as well, such as teaching global communities about the importance of immunization, nutrition and health education, providing classroom necessities such as whiteboards and markers so schools can continue to teach their children, helping families displaced by natural disasters by providing food, shelter supplies, household goods and emergency health products, giving women the resources to start their own businesses, young people the skills to learn a trade and support their families, helping agricultural communities maintain and harvest their crops and in general to affect change and improve life in areas that have been impacted by natural “disaster, conflict or economic collapse”.
For today, however, the fight to empower women, and ultimately children, was on my agenda so I chose to support a program that teaches and advocates the importance of “vital, compassionate care” for pregnant women.
They say individuals blessed with good life and relative good health, like myself, who give to charity do so to empower their own sense of worth and to make themselves feel good. Well, it certainly makes me feel good knowing that by adding my modest donation to many others, my family and I can make some small difference in the world. But on a much larger note, knowing that there are people out there who put so much energy and passion into maintaining any organization whose ultimate purpose is to inspire the value and dignity of human life is really quite a humbling realization.